Lately I’ve been thinking about my brain as a department store with multiple stories. It has an elevator with an operator who takes me to different floors. If you’re not old enough to remember elevator operators in their perky uniforms, you’ve probably seen them in movies. Second floor – Ladies apparel. Third Floor – Men’s Haberdashery. Fourth floor – Home Furnishings. The elevator operator knew what was on all the floors and was happy to answer questions. Something was lost when escalators and self-guided elevators became the norm.
I’ve realized that while I am doing all the other things I do during the course of my life, my brain is navigating the department store that is my novel revision. The store has a lot of floors, one for each of the many characters in my book, and the elevator is whizzing up and down trying to keep details straight. It’s best if that happens when I’m at my computer. If I’m not and I wonder if what Yvie said in Chapter Two is consistent with what she tells her twin sister three scenes later, I have to stop what I’m doing – like folding laundry – and go to my computer to find the two relevant places in the text.
Folding laundry is easy to stop and restart. Searing scallops for dinner is another matter. That requires me to hold a thought until I can write it down. Scallops do not wait. And my brain elevator may get stuck between floors.
Those niggly details pop up at unexpected times and demand attention. Sometimes the scribbled notes I made don’t make any sense. Why can’t my elevator operator take notes? Which makes me wonder — is this the sort of thing I could tell Alexa, if I had one?
My department store brain also has a basement, but the elevator operator – his name is Bob – doesn’t like to go down there. Bob says sometimes the elevator goes there all on its own and weird stuff gets on. I have known that to happen.